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Europe’s rate of imprisonment falls, according to Council of Europe survey

Council of Europe Strasbourg 2 April 2019
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“Curabilis” closed detention facility for persons serving measures, canton of Geneva, Switzerland © State of Geneva

“Curabilis” closed detention facility for persons serving measures, canton of Geneva, Switzerland © State of Geneva

The overall imprisonment rate in Europe fell by 6.6% between 2016 and 2018 - from 109.7 to 102.5 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants- according to the Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics for 2018 (SPACE), published today (see also the key findings).

This decrease continues a trend that started in 2012 when the incarceration rate, an indicator mainly determined by the length of the prison sentences, began to fall. The reduction of the incarceration rate in 27 prison administrations in 2018 was accompanied by a decrease in the average length of imprisonment, which fell from 8.8 to 8.2 months (-6.8%) across Europe. In contrast, the percentage of pre-trial detainees increased from 17.4% to 22.4% of the total prison population.

The countries where the incarceration rate decreased the most were Romania (-16%), Bulgaria (-15%), Norway (-11.6), Finland (-9.9%) and North Macedonia (-9.7%), followed by Armenia (-8.7%), Latvia (-8.4%), Luxembourg (-7.1%), Estonia (-5.7%) and Cyprus (-5.5%). On the other hand, incarceration rates increased the most in Iceland (+25.4%), Italy (+7.5%), Netherlands (+5.9%), Denmark (+5.8%) and Montenegro (+5.5%).

Countries with particularly high incarceration rates continued to be Russia (418.3 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants), Georgia (252.2), Azerbaijan (235), Lithuania (234.9), Republic of Moldova (215.2), Czech Republic (208.8), Latvia (194.6), Poland (194.4) and Estonia (191.4). Not taking into account countries with less than 300,000 inhabitants, the lowest incarceration rates were found in Iceland (46.8), Finland (51.1), Netherlands (54.4), Sweden (56.5), Denmark (63.2), Slovenia (61.1) and Norway (65.4).

Infographics:

 


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